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Local business owners sound off on Downtown Bloomington facelift plans



BLOOMINGTON (25News Now) – Downtown Bloomington business owners have concerns, but they’re generally excited about the multi-million-dollar plan to revive the area.

Last month, the Bloomington City Council heard the full proposal for the streetscape design, which included plans to redo streets, upgrade water and sewer mains, add parking, and more.

On Main Street, Red Raccoon Games owner former Alderman Jamie Mathy said he thinks the revitalization has been a long time coming.

“There’s been multiple plans over the last 25 or 30 years and none of them have ever actually been implemented,” Mathy said. “Now, we’re moving to a phase where the city is ready to implement and make actual changes, and I welcome it.”

The project could cost $76 million, or more. Mathy said the money is worth the opportunity to draw in more people to the city.

“When businesses and developers see the city making investments into an area, it signals that the city is serious about taking care of things,” Mathy said. “It makes investors and developers more confident in order to put their own money in.”

Down the street at Coffee Hound, manager Ryan Rutherford said he likes the idea of updating downtown’s atmosphere, but he worries once the project begins, it could slow customer traffic.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if there were full-on road closures here in front of, at least, our building, and for how long? That’s definitely going to affect business on some level,” Rutherford said.

Although the Market Street parking deck will be rebuilt, and there are plans to increase street parking, Rutherford is still worried that won’t be enough.

“Parking around here is kind of limited for long term, [in] downtown anyways,” Rutherford said. “As soon as you start condensing that, it gets a little tougher to please everybody.”

Mathy said he hopes the city communicates a concrete plan with residents soon.

“Tell us when you’re going to start, when it’s going to be, so that all the business owners can accommodate,” Mathy said. “There’s a lot of planning that we need to do in partnership with the city.”

City leaders are proposing a tax increment financing district (TIF) to help pay for the downtown projects. The TIF would return tax revenue generated from economic growth in the district back to the development instead of area taxing bodies like District 87 schools.

A public meeting to review the TIF plan is scheduled for Monday, April 29 at 6 p.m. at the Government Center.

A timeline for starting and completing the project hasn’t been announced.

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